Remember when Beverly Hills Cop got to part III and everything became trashy and unfunny? The movie was disappointing on many levels, especially since it looked and felt nothing like the first two. Well, unfortunately for fans of Bad Boys, this has also happened to your favourite franchise. Now before I go on, yes, Bad Boys I & II is up there along with Lethal Weapon 1- 3, Stakeout, Point Break, Hot Fuzz, and Dead Heat as some of the best buddy-cop movies ever made (the greatest is the often mentioned Midnight Run but that isn’t strictly a “buddy-cop” film since the duo aren’t cops). With two black leads, some explosive action and laugh-out-loud comedy, the original Bad Boys was a game-changer for Hollywood back in 1995 and it made stars out of two actors who were known more for their TV work at the time. The first two Bad Boys are grossly underrated at sites like Rotten Tomatoes but even those naysayers have to recognise that these two films are classics within the buddy-cop sub-genre. To prove that review-aggregation sites don’t work, Rotten Tomatoes are currently stating that this third movie titled Bad Boys For Life, is better than the first two, in fact it’s almost double the score! 🧐 This is quite obviously bullshit.
25 years after the first and 17 years after the second installment, we now have a third but when a sequel takes this long to arrive, everything’s changed; the actors, the characters, the story, the writers, the directors… the world. Very similar to Die Hard 4 or Terminator 3, Bad Boys 3 is a very different and disappointing film made by people who had nothing to do with the originals. These types of late-in-the-day, inferior sequels all end up looking like filmic mid-life crises with the leads trying to recapture their heyday and yes, Bad Boys For Life is in this same category.
The main reason for this detached feeling is the lack of Michael Bay; he makes a cameo appearance in this flick but he’s not directing. Whatever I may think of the man, it cannot be ignored that Bad Boys For Life is missing that music-video slash fashion-shoot aesthetic. That visual flair that Bay brought to the first two movies, that “Bad Boys” look is nowhere to be seen. This latest film is directed by a pair of Belgian directors who attempt some copycat shots (the “Miami” sign, the Will Smith “suit flex”, and the low-angle rotating of the camera whilst Will and Martin stand up). The fact that these two haven’t put their own stamp onto it, Bad Boys For Life just ends up feeling like a cheap clone. And whilst on the topic of these two new directors, in the opening titles they are referred to as “Adil & Bilall” because we wouldn’t want to offend the general public with some foreign names. They could have gone all-out and anglicised them to “Adam & Bill”… U-S-A, U-S-A! But I digress.
Apparently, Mikey Bay commands too much money these days for the budget to pay him and to outlay for some Big Willy styles. I guess Bay could have taken a pay-cut, given that this was his cinematic debut but nah, the moron has instead made the utterly garbage 6 Underground rather than take part in a film that kick-started his career. At least Jerry Bruckheimer is still producing and there’s a few nods to Mark Mancina’s original score but other than that, this is visually and sonically another film entirely. I mean there’s a trashy reworking of “Rhythm Of The Night” by The Black Eyed Peas in there! A mid-life crisis song if I ever heard one.
Whilst on the topic of songs, the first movie’s title was a reference to Inner Circle’s track of the same name which was used in the 1990s reality show Cops. It was then used ironically in the first movie because the two characters were… err… cops. The “bad boys” in the song were literally the bad guys not the “sheriffs”, “police”, or “soldiers” that were also mentioned; the cops were coming for the “bad boys”, the cops themselves weren’t the “bad boys”. Since the original film however, the film-makers seem to have become confused as to the meaning and there’s a couple of misreferences in this latest movie… “let’s be good men… who’d want to sing that song?” …nobody, ’cause you’re neither! In any case, this third installment references P. Diddy‘s “Bad Boy For Life”, that corny 2001 Hip-Pop track that most of us were trying to forget about. Mid-life crisis song #2.
Bad Boys For Life features an odd choice of characters and a somewhat annoying plot. For example: there’s no Detective Sanchez and Detective Ruiz any more. I know that the actors playing those characters were changed in the first sequel but regardless of who played them, the back-and-forth between Sanchez and Ruiz and Mike and Marcus was quite memorable and key to the franchise’s overall tone. Instead of them, we now have a police unit called “A.M.M.O.” (oh how clever, not) comprised of young, muscle-bound, tech-savvy twats including Vanessa Hudgens sporting some corny corn-rows. A.M.M.O’s command centre looks about as believable as the ones in the aforementioned Terminator and Die Hard sequel failures. I know the police department of the original two Bad Boys was more Last Action Hero than Se7en but still, this is taking the un-believability to another level.
This film also stars DJ Khaled and Nicky Jam (mid-life crisis #3) and a couple of villains who aren’t exactly believable. Even though it’s mentioned in the script, the soap opera story-line isn’t that great to watch and it cheapens the franchise (and remember this is a set of films directed by Michael Bay so that takes some doing). Thankfully, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence still have a bit of chemistry although I laughed exactly four times which isn’t great for a 124-minute buddy action comedy. There’s also the bumping-off of a key character and lots of depressing scenes where central characters are either dying, on life support, or being buried. These moments are largely unneeded; they add nothing to the film or franchise but potentially conclude it with some unnecessary misery.
Given that this film forms a trilogy, I would have liked Gabrielle Union and Téa Leoni to reprise their roles but alas we only have some of the original cast. And on that note: Will Smith still looks cool and handsome, Theresa Randle is still beautiful but what the hell has happened to Martin Lawrence? There’s a few scenes where he almost slurs his lines. Martin Lawrence was one of my favourite comedy actors of the 1990s but in the 2000s I began to dislike him. After doing sellout stand-up and wearing old-lady dresses in shite movies, he’s now a shell of his former self. You can barely see the Do The Right Thing/Bad Boys 1/Blue Streak/Nothing To Lose Lawrence any more, in fact he now looks like he’s wearing that fat-suit from Big Momma’s House in an inferior Bad Boys sequel. I assume that Lawrence has gotten over his post-9/11 Islamophobia since this third Bad Boys movie is directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. Let’s conveniently forget his white-man-ass-kissing, anti-middle-eastern stand-up routine from the 2000s. But I digress once more.
There is still a spark there, a chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence that should have resulted in a better film, however with the lacklustre writing and directing, this isn’t it. Whenever you glimpse a bit of that old-school chemistry between the two leads, it’s invariably ruined by the annoying and unwanted A.M.M.O. group who show up like Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel in Blade: Trinity. With a post-credit sequence allowing for yet another sequel, this time with the crappy new millennial crime-fighting team, I think the next movie isn’t going to be much better than this one. And what’s the next film going to be called pray tell? “Bad Boys For The Rest Of Their Lives” or “Bad Boys Never Retire” or “Bad Boys With Bad Kids Who Turned Good Guys”? Please Hollywood, no more.
Relatively Bad, No Longer Boys.